Popular marketer, blogger and podcaster, Mark Schaefer, recently projected that by the year 2020, the amount of content on the Internet will grow over 600%. Think about the depth and breadth of the Internet that we know today, and then picture six of them.
Growth of this magnitude will make a digital marketer’s job role more important than ever.
Below are the different skills that will make you successful in building a career in digital marketing:
- Intellectual curiosity
- Analytic & data-driven metrics
- Ability to execute
Let’s dive into these indispensable skills a bit deeper.
1. Intellectual Curiosity
Psychology Today describes a person with intellectual curiosity as a person that has “a deep and persistent desire to know.”
Being intellectually curious was natural to us as children, as we always looked for answers from those around us, asking the question “why.” For example, “Why is the sky blue?”, “Why do I have to eat my vegetables?”, and “Why do I have a bedtime?”
However, as we grow older we begin to hide or ignore our curiosity for fear of being mocked or ridiculed. The saying “there are no stupid questions” was born from that exact fear – and now exists to help encourage thinking and questions.
As technology, business and marketing continues to evolve, it’s important to not just learn things at a superficial level, but to truly spark your intellectual curiosity and understand the bigger picture and the “why” behind it.
In fact, one of the top 10 TED presentations of all time, How create leaders inspire action, Simon Sinek brought thoughtful questioning and understanding back to mainstream conversations. The framework that Sinek discusses is based on understanding the “why, how, what” behind everything. By having this level of understanding of the business, processes and tactical strategies – marketers are able to understand the big and little picture of their efforts.
Takeaway: Understanding the big-picture gives you a holistic view of your efforts and allows you to think critically about them, making you a stronger more adaptable marketer in this always-changing landscape. To be successful, it’s important to not only understand what you’re doing as a marketer, but WHY you’re doing it.
As Unilever’s CMO Keith Weed once said “In the last five years, the marketing industry has changed more than in the last 25. It’s created chaos. What’s changed so radically is we’re no longer just competing with the geniuses that created content in places like Hollywood, we’re competing against everyone.”
With so much more competition online than ever before, creativity will what will differentiate the great digital marketers from the mediocre.
Marketers will need creativity to be able to find unique ways to cut through the always-increasing information clutter, but also they’ll need it to be able to creatively solve business problems.
The good news? If you weren’t born creative, it doesn’t matter. Leading experts on innovation and creativity, Tom and David Kelly, wrote a whole book dispelling the myth that original work should be left for “the creatives.” They offer tips and suggestions on how anyone can cultivate their creative side. Get an idea of their process by watching their 60-minute video on their Creative Confidence website.
Takeaway: Cultivating your creative side will help you to create memorable marketing campaigns, and is also a valuable skill for problem solving.
3. Analytic & Data Driven Metrics
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” – John Wanamaker. Fortunately for the marketers of today, this quote no longer holds much truth.
There has been a fundamental shift in the way that consumers buy. More and more people are turning to the Internet to research potential purchases. And fortunately for marketers, with the right software, all of this buying behavior on your website is now trackable.
This makes data a big, big part of a marketers job. Data is a marketer’s golden ticket as it’s what can help people to make meaningful marketing decisions.
A great example of this comes from the co-founder of Kissmetrics and Crazy Egg, Neil Patel. He recently wrote on his blog how a A/B testing one phrase ended up increasing website sign-ups by 40%.
Takeaway: A successful marketer now needs the ability to find ways to gather data, organize it and then make intelligent marketing decisions off of it.
Although this trait is not specific to a career in digital marketing, it’s still important to address.
Passion is essential for everything in life. Passion for what you do makes it okay, or dare I say it exiting, to stay late on a Tuesday. Passion for what you do is what makes you wake up in the morning happy to come in to the office. Passion for what you do is what makes you feel fulfilled and complete as a person.
Leading author and speaker on creativity and motivation, Daniel Pink, uncovered that people are motivated to work hard and be successful because of three things: autonomy (our desire to direct our own lives), mastery (our urge to become better at things) and purpose (the feeling that we’re making a difference in the world).
Our passion for an industry, a person or a cause is what gives us the drive we need to be happy and successful.
In the words of Steve Jobs:
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what at you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And just like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”
Takeaway: Your passion for what you do will dictate your success and your happiness as a digital marketer. Without passion, you will never be able to fulfill your full potential.
5. Ability To Execute
With all of the free articles, podcasts, videos, SlideShare presentations, MOOCs and learning resources online, it’s all too easy to get lost in the information consumption-abyss. After all, it is actually much easier to learn about something, than to actually do something.
Marketers need to develop time management and productive work habits. With there being so many different things to do at all hours of the day (blog, publish on social media, monitor on social media, optimize website pages, create content offers, create conversion paths, create lead nurturing campaigns, etc.), you will need to learn how to make the most of their time and execute their marketing with excellence.
Takeaway: To be successful in today’s digital landscape, you will have to balance consumption and execution more than ever. If you have problems with this, consider trying the Pomodoro Technique popularized by many tech entrepreneurs.
Knowledge and experience aren’t necessarily “skills” but they’re now necessary in the competitive job market. Below are the two categories with the suggestions on how to stand out against the rest:
6. Current Digital Marketing Knowledge
With so many free educational resources available nowadays, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t take advantage of those resources. Plus, we’ve already established that digital marketing is a forever changing industry, keeping up with changes and new trends will be a crucial component to being successful.
Here are the top free, and reputable online resources for learning digital marketing skills:
- Inbound Marketing Certification. Hosted by HubSpot, this free digital marketing resource is a big-picture overview of the fundamentals of the different digital marketing puzzle pieces. Get Inbound Certified for free.
- Social Media: My new Social Creators Academy shows you how to get creative with visual storytelling.
- Google Analytics and Adwords: If you want to learn how to use the Google platform, you can gain the Google Analytics Individual Qualification Certification or Google Adwords Certification by joining Google Partners.
Takeaway: Never stop learning. Careers in digital marketing are not static. You have to learn and experiment everyday to keep your digital marketing knowledge current.
7. Learning By Doing: Getting Experience
With all of the free educational resources available and the accessibility of the Internet, you don’t need an internship or a job to gain experience anymore.
It’s very inexpensive to buy a domain and get started creating a website. By taking these steps, you can gain experience and insight into how the digital marketing industry works.
At HubSpot, we’ll often encourage job applicants that are newcomers to the industry to gain experience by trying digital marketing on their own, as it’s a great way to test out an industry before diving in, headfirst.
And this just makes sense, right? Would you rather hire someone who has read a few articles on driving a car, or the person who has actually gotten behind the wheel and driven the car? Practical experience and the results consistently generated mean everything in digital marketing.
Buy a domain on a topic that you love, or buy one with your name as a way to personal brand yourself, and begin applying your learnings. Take the time to create content, promote it through different distribution channels, try something new and creative, and analyze your efforts so you can always be improving.
Takeaway: Take all of your learning and put it to use. The best way learn digital marketing skills is by doing. There is no better way to prepare yourself for a career in digital marketing than by diving in and getting your hands dirty.
The future of digital marketing is certainly not set in stone. In just the last 5 years the entire digital marketing industry has shifted away from automated tactics to much more creative method of engaging and building audiences. Things are changing at an exponential rate and the successful digital marketers of today understand this and are preparing for the future.
Successful digital marketers are not simply maintaining the status quo of industry trends, they’re constantly creating and adapting to the future of marketing. This rate of change is only going to speed up, so to build a career in digital marketing you need to embrace change and always be learning, experimenting and looking for answers in the data.